Travel Theme: Symbol

Ailsa’s challenge is Symbol and for this time of year, I’ve chosen the Philippine “parol“.


Yes we all have Christmas trees also but the parol or Christmas lantern symbolizes the star that led the Three Kings to the Infant Jesus in Bethlehem and it signifies the Filipino Christmas spirit. Every home has at least one parol and if you travel at night you can see all of them lit up.

When I was in grade school, we were taught how to make them out of bamboo sticks, strings, paste and papel de japon (Japanese rice paper) or cellophane in different colors. We also learned to make tassels on the two bottom ends of the star.

The commercially made ones are more elaborate with cut out patterns like lace. Nowadays many parols are made with capiz shells or mother of pearl and with lights inside.

But no matter how small or humble one’s parol, everyone is proud to hung them in their windows.

Here’s an excerpt from as to the history of the parol in Philippines’ Advent tradition:

“The word parol (pronounced “pah-roll” with a rolling “r”) comes from the Spanish word for lantern, farol. According to World Book’s Christmas in the Philippines, the roots of the parol can be found in the Mexican piñata. The piñata came to Spain from Italy in the 1300’s, spread to Mexico and finally came to the Philippines when the Spaniards brought Christianity to the islands. The book A Child’s Pasko: Christmas in the Philippines explains that the parol was originally used to light the way to church to attend the daily Misas de Aguinaldo, or Gift Masses, which begin on the 16th of December, and ends with the Misa de Gallo, or “Mass of the Rooster” at midnight of Christmas eve. The midnight mass is followed by a usually lavish meal at home, which is always anticipated by the kids. The first Misa de Aguinaldo that is held at dawn on December 16th marks the official start of the Christmas season.”

My parol was Mom’s. Because of its delicate nature, she had to handcarry it on the plane. She wanted to have a parol even in the snow prone Illinois. But we hang it inside our home to protect it from the elements. When she passed away, I carried it with me everywhere. My sister has one too which I hope she’ll remember to hung in her window.

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11 Responses to Travel Theme: Symbol

  1. Vivien says:

    the parol looks very nice and Christmassy up on the window in the attic…festive..together with the homemade Christmas wreath and the snowman…


  2. bebs1 says:

    My lantern lends a flavor of the Philippines in my Christmas celebration.


  3. Thanks for the parol history along with your lovely photograph.


  4. bebs1 says:

    Thank you NW Frame of Mind. It makes me miss the Philippines.


  5. arlene says:

    Don’t they sell Philippine parols there Lou? Sabagay yung brother ko, bumili din dito hand carry din dati. I guess they sell the best parol here in our country.


  6. bebs1 says:

    Last week my friend was looking for a place that sells parol and she couldn’t find any,
    even the Filipino stores. I guess it is either you make them as you can buy the bamboo sticks from Michael’s but she’s not into crafts. The best really is to bring it here from home.


  7. Amy says:

    Thank you so much for introducing the Philippine “parol“ to us! Great post, Bebs!


  8. lolaWi says:

    The parol is truly a nice touch of Christmas back home.


  9. bebs1 says:

    Waxing nostalgic of the traditional yuletide celebration from way back when we were children. I can’t wait to spend Christmas in the Philippines.


  10. When I see the Christmas lantern, it reminds me of all the warm, beautiful, happy moments I had growing up in the Philippines. It’s a symbol too why part of me never left our homeland. Merry Christmas to you and your family. God bless.


  11. bebs1 says:

    Island Traveler, Merry Christmas and a grand New Year to you and your family. A part of us will always hunger for something from back home.


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